And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. [Revelation 11:18]
This article seeks to show that there is an increasing level of anger among nations, and this indicates that the return of Jesus Christ to the earth is near. It will be seen that the context of the words ‘And the nations were angry’ is that, firstly, there is a corresponding Divine anger (because of the increasing degeneracy of mankind), secondly, that the era is one in which Christ having returned, raises his dead followers, rewarding them appropriately before, thirdly, destroying those whose actions are corrupting and destroying the earth.
Throughout history, greed, injustice and poverty have always triggered understandable resentment and anger on the part of those who have suffered. The raging anger of former residents of the London Grenfell Tower, which was destroyed by fire on 14th June this year with disastrous loss of life, is hardly surprising – but such, this article suggests, is typical of a trend of increasing anger in the civilised world. Incidentally, a Day of Rage entitled ‘Justice for Grenfell’ was called for 21st June.
The election last year of Mr Trump as U.S. President, the British election in June with the British Prime Minister losing her overall majority in Parliament, and the election of the French President Emanuel Macron, also in June this year, all contained features of exasperation and a measure of anger on the part of the respective electorates. Similarly, the German elections of September this year revealed a surprising fall in the votes for Mrs. Merkel’s centre ground coalition, with 25% of votes going to extremist parties both on the right and the left. Mrs Merkel, like Mrs. May earlier, will be forced to seek the support of minority parties who will demand a heavy price. Further, it can be seen that such anger and frustration with mainstream politicians is fuelled through social media, such as Facebook and YouTube.
It is not the purpose of the article to examine possible causes for the anger, nor to comment on areas other than the Western world, but only to comment on a trend of increasing anger in the latter.
And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. [Matthew 24:10-12]
It was Jesus Christ who spoke these words as he described the features of Jewish society at the end of the ‘Mosaic’ age just before the Roman armies swept Judea off the map in AD 70 – 135. Howbeit, many of those features in Matthew chapter 24, are common to the end of any era, and a hatred and lack of any love for fellows are certainly evident in the world in which we live. History testifies to similar attitudes being so in such events as the Stalin persecution of Kulak farmers and the subsequent Ukrainian Holodomar of 1932-1933 when it is estimated that some 10 million people died. Another example of men behaving with a hatred and rage against their fellows is the French Revolution (1787-1799) and the Reign of Terror during which over 16,000 were guillotined, bringing to an end the ‘ancien regime’. With regard to the latter, just as uncensored newspapers kept French citizens well informed about political developments, so the modern world has found a new avenue to display its prejudice and rage – social media.
In The Times newspaper Comment column of 15th July 2017, Janice Turner wrote, “There is an arms race of rage in British Politics. Escalated by social media, it leaches into real life. We should be alarmed and ashamed that the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg needs a bodyguard after threats from both left and right . . . In the last two years the political temperature has soared. I’ve noted as a columnist that anger is sparked not just by topics like Brexit, terrorism or Scottish independence, but even cycling, breastfeeding or urban foxes. As if people perpetually seek an outlet for their bubbling surfeit of rage.”
The British Government commissioned a report by Lord Bew, the Chairman of the Standards in Public Life committee, following the level of online vitriol aimed at candidates in the 2017 general election. A BBC News item on 16th July reported Lord Bew as warning that British politics is at a “dangerous moment” with the level of personal abuse aimed at election candidates having reached a “tipping point” whereby capable people could be deterred from entering politics. The item referred back to a parliamentary debate when MPs from all parties spoke of the harassment they and their staff had received, both in person and online, including death threats, rape threats and anti-Semitic abuse. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-40610171
In addition to anger politically expressed online, there is also the modern feature of ‘trolling’, whereby inflammatory, derogatory and hateful remarks are posted online against those in the news for whatever reason. Social media has therefore provided a channel, often anonymous, for the worst side of human nature to express itself.
For one group of people, suffering abuse is not just a modern occurrence: the Jewish people have suffered ill-treatment for centuries and were warned in the Bible that this would happen; as one verse puts it, ...thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the LORD shall lead thee. [Deuteronomy 28:37]
In this chapter, Moses was inspired to prophesy of the curses that would come upon the nation of Israel because of their refusal to be faithful to Yahweh their God. It is a long chapter, but well worth reading because it describes in horrifying detail the sequential history of that people over the past 3,000 years, with their scattering throughout all nations (verse 64) and their persecutions culminating in the Holocaust (verses 65-67) in which six million Jews perished. Whilst, tragically, genocide has occurred all too frequently, yet the Holocaust was unique in that it was premeditated, pre-planned and executed with industrial efficiency. With particular reference to the above-mentioned Bible quotation, it is noteworthy that the word ‘Jew’ continues today to be regularly used in a pejorative sense.
It is noteworthy that whenever a society is experiencing major difficulties and pressures, there is a correlating increase in anti-Semitism, with the Jewish people being blamed for problems of whatever nature. With a wave of anger sweeping through the world, we find that anti-Semitism is also on the rise. In 2008, the former UK Member of Parliament, Denis MacShane published the book Globalising Hatred which drew upon a report of an all party Parliamentary Committee (comprised of non-Jews) which he chaired. Mr. MacShane reported that anti-Semitism was global, that countries such as Germany and France contained extreme neo-anti-Semitic factions and that the term ‘Jewish Lobby’ was used in a way that inferred a sinister and secret plot. He also pointed out that the 1988 Hamas Charter was virulent Jew-hating.
The levels of Jewish emigration from European countries are a useful barometer of anti-Semitism. In France, where there has been a marked increase in hostility toward Jews, there has been a sharp increase in Jews departing for Israel (40,000 since 2006), and surveys have shown that such hostility has been evident among those who receive their information by social networks, forums and online videos such as YouTube. In Belgium and Italy, there has also been increased departure of Jews, whilst more normal expected levels of emigration have been recorded in Britain, Sweden and Germany (as reported in The Guardian 12th January 2017). Nevertheless, again as reported by the same newspaper on 1st February this year, in Britain there was an increase in anti-Jewish attacks to 1309 in 2016, an increase of 36% on 2015. The report, based upon evidence from the Jewish organisation Community Security Trust, attributed this increase to recent terrorist attacks in Europe, high profile allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour party and a general increase in racism and xenophobia following the Brexit referendum. Interestingly, the article noted that social media had become an essential tool for coordinated campaigns of anti-Semitic harassment, abuse and threats directed at Jewish politicians, student activists and other individuals, perpetrated by a transnational network of online anti-Semitic activists.
This article particularly cites anti-Semitism because it is described in Bible history and prophecy, but with so many Muslim refugees fleeing throughout the world (and extremist Muslim inspired atrocities such as recent terrorist attacks in Britain, France and Belgium), there is also much anti-Muslim hostility. Nevertheless, a point being made here is this: increasing anger towards the Jewish race, a symptom of an increasingly angry and intolerant world, is part of the history of the Jew described in detail over 3,000 years ago. This, additionally, is part of fulfilled Bible prophecy demonstrating substantial evidence that the Bible is the Word of the living God.
Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment: [Exodus 23:1-2]
The above-mentioned inspired words from the hand of Moses are very wise, because members of a rioting crowd will sometimes be incited to actions which they would not do as individuals. There is evidence to show, as cited by Professor Cass R. Sunstein in his book Going to Extremes, that members of a deliberating group develop a more extreme position than the original view of individual members – a feature he calls “group polarisation”. Likewise, the atheist anthropologist Scott Altran in his book Talking to the Enemy: Violent Extremism, Sacred Values and What it means to be Human, posited in a study of suicide bombers that it is not religious fanaticism per se that generates motivation but the power of group dynamics. The latter involves close fellowship groups in which there is a commitment cost – to be evident in zeal through extremity of sacrifice which shows that a participant ‘belongs’. Similarly, the former chancellor Alistair Darling in his book Back from the Brink; 1,000 days at Number 11, records that the strained relationship between himself and Prime Minister Gordon Brown was “often exacerbated by the behaviour of the people around him, who believed they were doing the right thing by him and often vying to prove their own importance within his court”.
Political ‘group polarisation’ appears to be happening in British society and the Western world, and moving in the direction of insulting, dehumanising and raging against anyone who disagrees with the group. This trend is currently facilitated and made worse by social media activity.
The follower of Jesus Christ will therefore remember the wisdom of Exodus 23:2 quoted above, and maintain a separation from the influences of group polarisation.
In Psalms 2:1-2, is another passage in the Bible which speaks of nations in a rage...
Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed . . .
...and - as with our first quotation from Revelation 11 - the era being described is the time when Jesus Christ has returned to the earth and begun ruling the world from Jerusalem, as taught by Isaiah 2:1-4, Jeremiah 3:17-18, Matthew 5:35, Luke 1:32-33 and many other scriptures. Psalm 2:6 reads, Yet have I (God) set my king (Jesus) upon my holy hill of Zion. From this psalm, we can deduce that the nations will be enraged by the Lord Jesus Christ enthroned in Jerusalem, but their hostile aggression will avail them nothing, for, 2:9 reads, Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
There is another psalm that portrays a similar scenario in the same context. Psalm 46:6 reads: The heathen (nations) raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. Again, those nations are made desolate with their weaponry destroyed - See Psalm 46:8-11
When we read these psalms in the context of other Bible passages, it is clear that after God has responded to the anger and rage of the nations of this world there will be a world-wide kingdom of God on earth, with Jesus Christ as king, Jerusalem as the capital city and the immortalised ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ of Christ as administrators, ruling over Israel and eventually the whole globe (Matthew 19:28, Revelation 5:10, Luke 1:32-33). Their reign will comprise a thousand years of peace, prosperity and increased healthy longevity for the mortal inhabitants. Such is the good news of the Kingdom of God.
To summarise, this article postulates that the increasing anger and intolerance in the world in which we live – including anger fuelled through online forums and other social media - is a notable ‘sign of the times’, and will be one of the drivers which lead to a time of great trouble when Christ will return to the earth. Whether we view this time with fearfulness, indifference or hope depends on our attitude to the Bible and the information God has revealed in its pages. For those who search out its truth and respond appropriately, there is the offer of everlasting peace and happiness.
Postscript: As we prepare this article for publication, it has been announced that hate crimes in England and Wales have risen by 29% in the last year. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41648865